Quantitative Assessment of Microbial Pathogens and Indicators of Wastewater Treatment Performance for Safe and Sustainable Water Reuse in India

Shruti Chowdhari, Shubham Rana, Samridhi Rana, Christina M. Morrison, Sarah Elizabeth Abney, Rajveer Singh, Patrick L. Gurian, Amit Kumar, Arun Kumar, Walter Q. Betancourt, Perumal Vivekanandan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Currently, there is no data on the molecular quantification of microbial indicators of recycled water quality in India. In this study, multiple microbial pathogens and indicators of water quality were evaluated at three wastewater treatment plants located in two Indian cities (New Delhi and Jaipur) to determine the treatment performance and suitability of recycled water for safe and sustainable reuse applications. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used for the rapid evaluation of six human pathogens and six microbial indicators of fecal contamination. Among the microbial indicators, pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), F+RNA-GII bacteriophage, Bacteroides thetaiotamicron, and four human pathogens (Norovirus genogroups I & II, Giardia, and Campylobacter coli) were detected in all of the influent samples analyzed. This work suggests that the raw influents contain lower levels of noroviruses and adenoviruses and higher levels of Giardia compared to those reported from other geographic regions. Overall, the efficacy of the removal of microbial targets was over 93% in the final effluent samples, which is consistent with reports from across the world. PMMoV and Giardia were identified as the best microbial targets, from the microbial indicators spanning across bacteria, bacteriophages, DNA/RNA viruses, and protozoan parasites, by which to evaluate treatment performance and recycled water quality in Indian settings, as they were consistently present at high concentrations in untreated wastewater both within and across the sites. Also, they showed a strong correlation with other microbial agents in both the raw influent and in the final effluent. These findings provide valuable insights into the use of culture-independent molecular indicators that can be used to assess the microbial quality of recycled water in Indian settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Giardia
  • PMMoV
  • human pathogens
  • microbial indicators
  • molecular quantitation
  • wastewater treatment performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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